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Blenda WilsonGREAT BARRINGTON, MA.—Bard College at Simon’s Rock is pleased to announce that Dr. Blenda J. Wilson- a leading national figure in education and community renewal will deliver the keynote address at the 39th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16, 2008.
A nationally known leader in higher education policy and practice, Dr. Wilson has devoted her career to expanding educational opportunities. As former president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Dr. Wilson oversaw one of the nation’s largest public charities dedicated to improving academic achievement for underserved communities. During Wilson's seven-year tenure, the foundation distributed more than $80 million in grants to educational institutions and non-profit organizations to improve access to college for low-income and underserved student populations.
In a statement released on April 18, Bard College at Simon’s Rock Provost Mary B. Marcy, stated, “I am honored that Dr. Wilson – an individual who has dedicated her life to providing educational opportunity  – has agreed to be our commencement speaker.  Her leadership has changed lives for the better; her presence as our speaker on this important occasion recognizes that Simon’s Rock is also involved in the work of providing opportunity and educational excellence.”
The current Acting President of Cedar Crest College, where she is also a Board member and distinguished alumnus, Dr. Wilson began her career in higher education at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  She also served for ten years as senior associate dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For her humanity, for her dedication to education, and for her commitment to providing opportunity to underrepresented students, Dr. Wilson has received honorary degrees from more than 25 colleges and universities, including Rutgers, the University of Massachusetts, Brandeis University and Boston College. Dr. Wilson is former chancellor of the University of Michigan–Dearborn, and former president of California State University–Northridge. She is a former president of the American Association of Higher Education, is chair of the board of Hers and currently serves on the boards of Boston College, NCHEMS, Union Theological Seminary, Western Governors University and Medco Health Systems. As a former executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, Dr. Wilson served as an officer in the governor’s cabinet.
Dr. Wilson will address the graduating class of 2008, their families and guests, as well as Simon's Rock faculty and staff. The ceremonies will take place on the Blodgett Lawn on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 84 Alford Road in Great Barrington.